Author Archives: Aimee Juarez

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Growing Clinic Needs Volunteers

The good news is that we’ve nearly doubled the number of new patients we were able to provide healthcare for this past year compared to the year before. The challenge is that we are having a shortage of medical care providers. Please help us spread the word that our clinic is in desperate need of medical professionals in the following areas:

Dentists:  Needed at any time!  This is our most acute need.  We will work around your schedule.

Dermatologists and Medical Massage Therapistsare needed any time.

Pharmacists: needed the 1st Wednesday of each month from 1:30-4pm and the 2nd Monday of each month from 9:30-noon.

Sign up for one day a month for up to 4 hours at a time and help our clients receive the care they need!  Please contact Nathan at 330-434-0110 ext. 409 or for more information.

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Getting Ahead at the Chapel in Green

The first ever class of Getting Ahead participants from the Chapel in Green graduated on December 9, 2016.  OPEN M was thrilled for the opportunity to teach Getting Ahead out in the community at this new location.  Though the class was small, it was extremely meaningful.  The two graduates attended class for 16 weeks at the Chapel in Green and here at OPEN M.

We are so proud of these ladies for staying the course and doing what it took to finish the class.  Upon graduation, both had amazing opportunities to volunteer and build on their personal and professional experiences.  These women have made commitments to take the next step in their journeys.  April has joined Circles, a program of Akron Summit Community Action that serves a small number of Getting Ahead graduates.  We are excited to welcome Sheri to our OPEN M Community Works Connection program.  CWC provides employment assistance and support for many Getting Ahead graduates.  We would like to wish these ladies success as they begin building their future stories.

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In an effort to take our work to a new level, OPEN M is taking part in an exciting project with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank called Voices. Our Foodbank was one of two in the country selected by Feeding America, Fund for Shared Insight, and the Urban Institute to spend nearly two years on a project to develop sustainable ways to collect meaningful feedback from those we serve.  OPEN M is one of eight agencies that agreed to participate in this project out of the 500 programs in the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank network.

This community-based research project positions clients—people with lived experience—as the experts.  The Voices project asks for client feedback and changes the perspective of who we consider stakeholders in food security and our fight to end hunger.  We are acknowledging the importance of the clients themselves as partners in this work.  The project also requires participants (like OPEN M) to implement changes informed by that client feedback to improve our work.

Voices is helping us to really focus on hearing the needs of our clients and doing what we can to make changes to better serve the community.  Some of the changes that have already resulted from this project include an initiative to educate our volunteers for better customer service and providing food that is better suited to our clients with special dietary needs whenever possible (i.e. fresh fruits and vegetables, gluten free, and low sodium options).  We look forward to discovering more ways to collaborate with our clients in our ongoing efforts to serve their needs.

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Shout Out to Pastor Campbell

OPEN M would like to gratefully acknowledge Pastor Oliver Campbell, our OPEN M Chaplain. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him, you are encouraged to join us for Food 4 the Soul in the coming months. This is a new service series that Pastor Campbell has organized on the third Tuesday of each month in our multipurpose room. Each month, we’ll hear from a new speaker and enjoy a hot meal together. Volunteers will be available to pray with anyone at their request.

Food 4 the Soul is just one of many projects Pastor Campbell has put into motion since he began working with us this past year. From the community barbecue last summer, to speaking in CWC, to Bible Studies and Food 4 the Soul, he continuously puts his passion for this community into action. Pastor Campbell takes advantage of every opportunity to demonstrate the love and life of Christ to those around him—in his family, at his barber shop, to his congregation at Centenary UMC, and here at OPEN M.

We’d like to extend a whole-hearted THANK YOU for your dedication and devotion to our community, Pastor Campbell. We at OPEN M count ourselves among the many people in Akron who are blessed by your ministry.

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One Year Anniversaries!

The CWC mantra is ‘One job. One year.’ We feel it is important to acknowlege the hard work that goes into reaching that very important milestone on the road to self-sufficiency. We’d like to offer our most sincere congratulations to the following CWC graduates who have been on the job for at least one year:

Anthony Bagnoli– Ohio E-Check

Heather Barahona– TL Worldwide Transportation

Kasadale Batties– Fred Olivieri Construction

Jacqueline Blair– TL Worldwide Transportation

Aaron Boso– Home Depot

Ka’Ress Boykin– North Coast Auto Mall

Jahlisa Bruster– Summa Health Systems

Darrell Bryant– Regency

Jesse Dancy– Ascot Valley Foods

Patricia DeSimone– Apartments on Second Street

Fred Diener– TL Worldwide Transportation

RaShae Greer– Universal Screen Arts

Jerry Johnson– TL Worldwide Transportation

Mark Johnson– Weaver Fabricating & Finishing

Te’Aira Lewis– Caring Touch Home Health Services

Alexandria Malone– Burger King

Dynasti Malone-Smith– Lowes Home Improvement

Terrance Parker– Levin Furniture

Antoine Portis– Trelleborg Wheel Systems

LaTasha Powers– Summa Health Systems

Cameron Shealy– Tahoma Rubber & Plastics

JaSunya Washington– Summa Health Systems

Steven Worley– Sirna & Sons Produce

Venus Young– Infocision

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Save the Date! May 20th, 2017

Walking the Talk 2017 is in the works!

Keep an eye out for your fundraising toolkit!

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In Loving Memory of Omar Riley

Omar came to OPEN M in March of 2015 to join our Community Works Connection (CWC) program. During our week of classes, he forged a friendship with every one of his classmates. Omar always demonstrated leadership. He spoke often and kindly of his children. He was a proud father.

After graduating from the CWC program, Omar went on to work for Akron Polymers for a year before being laid off. He quickly found another job because he believed it was his duty to take care of his family.

Each of our graduates are asked to write a ‘blurb’ on their graduation pictures. Omar wrote ‘Life Changing.’  He knew he was on the road to becoming self-sufficient. We were deeply saddened by the news of the unexpected passing of Omar and his family. Omar will always be remembered as a leader and a family man.

May God rest his soul as he and his family have transitioned home to Our Father.

We love and miss you, Omar.

In Him,

Vikki B. Thomas and the CWC team

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Spreading Christmas Cheer

As you may know, last week was our Christmas for the Love of Children food and gift distribution. In the days following the event, the entire staff here was beaming with Christmas spirit and joy. It seemed to touch each of us equally, but in different ways. For many of OPEN M staffers, the pure bewilderment of the parents and anticipation of each child’s excitement was the most impactful. 

I am always impressed by the individuals receiving gifts having such grateful hearts. First, there is a surprised look on their face followed by a big smile and a thank you. 

-Dottie Achmoody, CEO

It was truly magical… the faces of belief and wonder filled the air yesterday. From an innocent child with Santa to a parents that were so grateful for the gift of Christmas. We did a great job at mirroring Christ’s love thru gifts.

-Bob Titus, COO

It was a totally Amazing experience being an elf! I wish I could be there with each child on Christmas morning.. Such a huge blessing for Summit County!

-Tela Long, Getting Ahead Assistant

For others, seeing compassion build bridges to bring the community together was the most impactful part. And after all, building bridges is what OPEN M is all about!

The entire day was a moment for me!!! The joy, the entertainment, the celebration, the blessing that we can make people feel like “people”! We aren’t giving out handouts, we are providing blessings to individuals that are in “a time of need”! CFTLOC distribution is a blessing for all of us!

-Jennifer Wallace, CWC Case Manager

It warmed the cockles of my heart to watch each and every volunteer treat our clients as though they were their own family. Love and Dignity was abound and you could feel it! 

-Vikki Thomas, CWC Case Manager

With this  being my first CFTLOC, I loved seeing everyone work together and really make the day special for the families that received gifts. It’s such an awesome experience to be part of  a group that comes together to make such a wonderful difference within our community.

-Megan Allen, Transportation and Mentoring Coordinator

For some of us, possibly thanks to having young children, the experience hit home because we know the parents we served long to see the same joy in their children’s eyes we long to see in our kids’. Stepping back and trying to imagine walking a day in the shoes of some of these parents is truly humbling and quite honestly, overwhelming. 

Resilience, gratitude, humility, grit, love—these are the words that come to mind when I think of the families I met at this year’s Christmas distribution.  I think of the parents who walked miles in the cold to get here, the dad who could barely stand because of a back injury but still showed up, the mom who came just days after surgery, and the many, many parents who rushed in after a long day of work.  So many parents paused to look me in the eye (several through tears) and expressed their thanks. Over and over I met parents in deep pain and need, graciously accepting our gifts and working hard to love their children well this Christmas season.

-Michelle Unangst, Grant Writer

I saw my own three year old in the face of the children who came in with their parents. I saw her pure joy while they picked out their Barbies and read stories with Fran. These children smile and feel and hurt and love the same way my child does. The weight of what Christmas means to all children hit me. As a parent, I’m so thankful to have been a part of making Christmas extra special for these families. 

-Aimee Juarez, Marketing and Social Media

Could there be a better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus than to live by his example by loving and serving those in need? 

This Christmas, we pray each of our donors, volunteers, staff members and friends in the community will feel the blessing of peace and joy knowing that each of you have played a part in touching Summit County this Holiday season. As you celebrate with friends and relatives, please remember to say a prayer for the families we served at CFTLOC this year and for the children who will be opening their gifts on Christmas morning. 

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

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Dottie Achmoody to Retire as CEO

Merry Christmas! 2016 marks my 20th Christmas with OPEN M. Of all the programs we offer, this is my favorite because of the way it brings joy and hope to so many people who are struggling. To come alongside people in their time of need and build them up with love and gifts brings a multitude of blessings not only to the recipient families, but to the donors, and OPEN M staff as well.

This year will also mark my last Christmas as CEO of OPEN M, as I will retire on April 1, 2017. I plan to continue to work part-time for OPEN M in the area of development and fundraising throughout 2017. As I step out of my Cheif Executive Officer role, I personally want to thank you for your support and generous heart through the Christmas program and many other programs over the years. You have shown Christ’s love in such a unique and tangible way.

Over 20 years of Christmases, I have been doubly blessed to see both the excitement of the giver and the gratitude of the receiver. In years past, we would bring Christmas for the Love of Children gifts to the families’ homes. And so, I am fortunate to take with me the many memories of the children’s faces that lit up with joy and laughter as gifts and food were dropped off. I remember the words of small children who were more excited about the food than the gifts knowing they were going to have more than enough to eat over the holidays. I think of the little boy who had a small, 12 inch tree on a stand with only one small gift under it wrapped in newspaper. When we came in with food and gifts galore, he just kept running around the room in excitement. Another memory ingrained in my mind is that of a snowy day when my family delivered gifts to three small children who watched excitedly from the house as we unloaded our trunk. The little girl became so excited, she ran out to greet us in her bare feet! I dropped the gifts to run and pick her up. OPEN M made their last Christmas so very special, as all three were taken too soon that following spring in a tragic car accident.

It has been just as much fun watching the volunteers and donors prepare Christmas for these little ones. I am amazed when I think of the hundreds of volunteer hours that have gone into bringing the whole community together to give the greatest gift of all: God’s love and hope. We’ve had two major “Christmas Angels” who generously helped to make all those wonders possible for so many additional children on the list, Mr. Anonymous and Sam Keller. Sam would bring his crew to help shop and would personally fill the carts with gifts. It was not unusual to have 8 to 12 carts filled to the brim with gifts! Sam now watches from the best seat in the house, heaven.

Thank you again for your support and for helping us put the “LOVE” in the Christmas for the Love of Children Program. As I begin this new season of my life, I stand in amazement having seen how generous and caring the people of the greater Akron area really are, and I know that I’ve been blessed to have been a part of it. May God bless you richly as you share your Christmas blessing with others this year and in the years to come!

“For unto us a child is born, for unto us a Savior is given.”

-Dottie Achmoody

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Baking Cookies This Week?

If you’re baking cookies this week and have a little time on your hands, why not bake a few dozen of extras?! 

Our Christmas for the Love of Children distribution day is next Wednesday, December 14th. We’d love to have some cookies available for parents as they pick up their food boxes and gifts for their children. 

If you’d like to bring cookies, please drop them off on Tuesday, the 13th. 

Call Miss Patty Whetsel at 330-434-0110 x402 if you’re planning to bring cookies!